R.J. Owens

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In accepting the request to talk to you on the topic of Literature in the Language Syllabus, I hardly expect to be able to offer you anything very new or original. It is an old conference battlefield, across which charges and counter charges, shot and shell and even, I suppose, the polemical equivalents of bows and arrows and atomic bombs have been launched by one side or the other. It is one of those topics, too, in relation to which many participants at conferences attend more closely to the opinions in their own heads than to the words coming out of a speaker's mouth (unless that is, the words support the opinions), and it is partly for this good reason, I take it, that the topic figures an the agenda for this conference. Almost anything I say is likely to find supporters and attackers - those who say 'Of course that's obvious' and those who mutter 'Nonsense, he can't know what he's talking about'. I recall a line from a poem that sometimes fits : "And those behind cried 'Forward' while those in front cried 'Back'."



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